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Health and Medicine

Klamath Falls Hospital Expands COVID-19 Unit To Handle Surge In Cases


The isolation unit at Sky Lakes Medical Center reached capacity on Tuesday and hospital authorities say they've created an additional one as the number of coronavirus patients in need of hospitalization continue to increase.

On Monday, Sky Lakes had four patients in its dedicated COVID-19 isolation unit on the hospital's third floor. Early Tuesday morning there were seven, and by noon three more had been admitted.

"This morning, Sky Lakes had more COVID-109 patients than even since the pandemic began,' said Sky Lakes President and CEO Paul Stewart in a statement. "And with the large number of positive test results recently reported, we can expect more COVID-19 patients in the very near future."

Klamath County health authorities report that the county's daily new case rate has shot up from single digits during the first week of November, to 75 cases on Nov. 20. Since the week starting Nov. 16, there have been 210 new cases in the county, as of Tuesday, Nov. 24.

The new isolation unit has been opened on the hospital's second floor to deal with the increased COVID-19 patient load. There are special accommodations in place to allow staff and care providers to access the unit directly, without passing through public areas. The rest of the hospital remains open to care for non-COVID-19 patients.

Stewart issued a warning and a plea to the community.

“Our ability to care for non-COVID patients relies entirely on having staff and providers available. If they are required to care for an influx of COVID-19 patients, then we have diminished capacity to take care of other patients. Please do all you can to decrease COVID exposure in our community.”

Stewart said the county's surge in new cases was largely traceable back to Halloween parties late last month, where people disregarded masking and social distancing recommendations.

"With Thanksgiving just around the corner," he said, "it's especially important to heed the experts' advice about masks and gatherings."

Those recommendations include wearing face coverings when in public, to avoid gatherings, especially indoors, and to maintain at least six feet of distance from anyone you don't live with.